MY LOVE FOR SOCCER: WHERE IT ALL BEGAN

What inspired me to start a blog about football? (Slight update: it’s no longer just about football, but also about everything in this crazy head!)

The same thing that inspires me to get out of bed every morning, pure, intense passion!

I love football, I have since I was in primary school. If I can remember correctly, I was a puny girl in Standard Four or Five that was socially awkward and loved to read. You know what else I loved back then? You guessed it, playing football! I was not good at all, but I loved running up and down chasing after that ball every break time, home time, and games time. A big thank you to the dudes in my class that allowed me to play with them.

And then came the moment that would change my love affair with football forever. Before this, it was just a game, but it would soon become more than that. It would become a way of life.

It was around June 2002, I was in Standard Six, and by all accounts, it was shaping up to be a good year for me. Academically, I was doing good, I had managed to make a few friends in school, and my crush list was a mile long! World Cup fever was at its peak all over the world, and in our home. I remember my brother and I having stuck newspaper pullouts of Ronaldo,Rivaldo, Ballack, Beckham, Roberto Carlos, and Khan on our closet doors. On second thought, I think it was just me doing that! This was the first time I had ever even heard these names in my life, and seen so many football games in such a short span of time. I was soooooooooo excited! The World Cup, Brazil, to be specific, was all we could talk about in school, and all we could talk about at home. It was a spectacular time!

I cannot remember which game it was. I cannot even remember which day it was. I don’t remember if I had eaten, or done my homework. In fact, I don’t even remember if it was day or night! All I remember is catching a glimpse of him on the screen every few minutes. If he wasn’t ‘chengaing’ defenders with his amazing dribbling skills, he was threatening goal. I swear even the cameras could not catch up with him in that match.

And his hair! Gosh, I think he’s the reason I am obsessed with men with long hair to this day. You would just see a kasmall¬†ponytail move from left to right every time he got the ball. I did not know it then, but I was laying my eyes for the first time on one of the greatest loves of my life for decades to come! It was not about his physique, (okay, maybe except his hair!), it was more about his skills on the pitch that absolutely blew my mind!

But, as far as I can remember, no one talked about him as much as I wanted. Everyone else was head over heels with the likes of Ronaldo. It didn’t matter, this special young man had caught my attention, and he would hold it hostage forever!

His free kick against England sealed the deal for me. I faintly recall I was sitting in my mum’s favorite chair when the highlight of that came on. I was witness to magic and my young, pre-adolescent brain was stunned.

Seeing him play that game that way ignited a flame of sorts within. I was hooked on football after that. It’s like he introduced me to a new world that I could engage with nearly every weekend. A world I felt comfortable in where I wasn’t shy, or scared, or ashamed about my excessively huge forehead, or the fact that I did not have a single ounce of confidence in myself. The more I engaged with this new world, the more I connected with people around me, because now I had something in common with them.

I have followed Ronaldinho’s career since that game up until he announced his retirement this year. I was so enamored by this guy that for the longest time I used his name, Moreira, as my surname on Facebook. This connection is deep, yoh, it’s deep. When he retired last month, I cried, and told everyone about him leaving the game, even my mum. Speaking of my mum, according to her, he was my first boyfriend because I could not shut up about him!! And she kept making fun of his teeth to infuriate me. And I would shout back that it wasn’t about how he looked, but about HOW HE PLAYED!!! You should hear how she pronounces his name…it’s heartbreaking!

Anyway, he was my first MVP, and I want to dedicate my future posts on this blog to individuals like him who make this and other sports so amazing, so magical, so life changing!

PS: A big shout-out to Radio Jambo for always having my back when the local TV channels were unable to air football matches, and we didn’t have DSTV and I was too young to go watch in a bar! You guys are also MVPs.

 

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